Feb. 22, 2000
THIS WEEK: The Washington baseball team (1-4 overall) opens the home slate this weekend with a four-game, three-day series against in-state rival Gonzaga (3-1). The Huskies and Bulldogs go at it Friday night at 6:30 p.m., play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon and close out the series Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The games on Friday and Sunday can be heard live on radio on KKOL AM-1300, with Eric Radovich providing the commentary. The Gonzaga series is part of a stretch of games that will see the Dawgs play nine of the next 10 at home. Outside of a one-game trip to Portland on March 7, the Huskies don't return to the road until March 21, when they travel to play Southern Utah and conference foe UCLA. Here's a rundown of the schedule for this weekend, including the projected Husky starters.
Friday, Feb. 25: UW vs. Gonzaga, Husky Ballpark, 6:30 p.m. -- RHP Jeff Carlsen
Saturday, Feb. 26: UW vs. Gonzaga (DH), Husky Ballpark, 12:00 p.m. -- RHP Matt Massingale & LHP Mike Bomar
Sunday, Feb. 27: UW vs. Gonzaga, Husky Ballpark, 1:00 p.m. -- LHP Matt Gardner
SERIES HISTORY: Thanks largely to the fact that Washington and Gonzaga were both Pac-10 North conference members for a long time, the two teams have a lengthy history against one another. The Huskies have a 53-41 all-time series lead over the Zags, who left the Pac-10 North after the '95 season. Since then, Washington has often played its first home series of the year against Gonzaga. In last year's home opener, the Huskies beat the Bulldogs, 8-4, behind an 11-strikeout, eight-inning performance from Jeff Heaverlo. Ed Erickson, Dominic Woody and Bryan Williamson all homered in that game. Later in the year, the teams split a pair of games. In the first, Erickson singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to give Heaverlo a relief win. Todd Linden hit the lone HR of his freshman year in that game. The next day, the Zags came back to beat the Huskies, 7-2, thanks largely to a 4.1-inning shutout relief outing from Matt Siwek.
COACH "K": In seven seasons as the head coach of his alma mater, Ken Knutson has led the Dawgs to two Pac-10 championships, four Pac-10 Northern Division titles, two second-place finishes and three NCAA Regionals. His career overall record stands at 260-159 (.621). With those 260 wins, he is the second-winningest coach in UW history, trailing only Bob MacDonald (422). Before becoming the Husky head man in 1993, Knutson served as the Husky pitching coach for eight seasons. In 1985, his UW pitching staff led the nation with a 2.80 ERA. Knutson holds a 121-40 (.752) record in home games. He is 123-63 (.661) in conference games, the highest mark (percentage-wise) of any active Pac-10 coach. A 1981 All-Pac-10 left-handed pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistant coaches Joe Ross, Ed Gustafson, and Joe Weis.
PLAYER NOTES: Here's a look at the possible starters at each position, with current stats and notes:
Pos. Player, Year Avg.-HR-RBI Notes C -- Jefferson Thiel, Fr. .182-0-2 Three-time all-league catcher at Juanita HS Tim Rice, So. .000-0-0 Tranferred from Tacoma CC after fall 1B -- Ed Erickson, Sr. .154-0-1 UW's career HR leader with 31 Duggan Moran, Jr. .125-0-2 Game-winning hit to beat Northern Iowa 2B -- Josh Fulton, So. .125-0-0 Played one year at Brigham Young Brent Robertson, So. .250-0-0 Started 22 games at 2B last year SS -- Tila Reynolds, Fr. .154-0-0 Had "Tommy John" surgery last spring 3B -- Michael Done, So. .333-1-3 Two triples vs. Creighton on opening day OF -- Marc Rittenhouse, Jr. .357-1-3 Leads team with eight runs OF -- Todd Linden, So. .750-3-11 Pac-10 Player of the Week OF -- Matt Hollod, So. .167-0-2 Started four of five games in RF OF -- Ben Miller, So. .000-0-0 Started at LF in UW win over Northern Iowa DH -- Jay Garthwaite, Fr. .111-0-0 12th-round draft pick in 1999 Daniel Jahn, Jr. .500-0-1 Reached in first two pinch-hit appearances
LAST WEEK: The Huskies opened the 2000 season with a tough trip to the Rawlings Spring Training Tournament in Phoenix, Ariz. The Dawgs returned home with a 1-4 record and a wealth of new experience. Opening day vs. Creighton, the Huskies blew a four-run lead in the ninth to lose, 12-10. Todd Linden homered twice and Michael Done contributed two triples for the UW. Friday, No. 28 Nevada handed the Dawgs a 12-7 loss while both Linden and Done homered. Linden had a 4-for-4 day Saturday vs. Creighton, but it wasn't nearly enough in a 14-3 loss. The Dawgs finally got their first win on Saturday, beating Northern Iowa, 5-4. The Huskies trailed 4-0 before scoring five in the sixth inning (of a seven-inning game). Marc Rittenhouse drove in the first two runs with a double and Duggan Moran singled home the tying and go-ahead tallies with a single, his first college hit. Reliever Taylor Grant worked 3.1 no-hit innings, fanning five, for the win. In the weekend finale, Northwestern starter Gabe Ribas held the Huskies to only two hits in a seven-inning CG as the Wildcats won, 2-1.
DOMINATING THE NORTHWEST: During the decade of the 1990s, the UW baseball program grew to be the unquestioned dominant team in the Pacific Northwest. During the decade, the Huskies won five Pac-10 North titles, two overall Pac-10 championships and went to four regionals. No Northwest team besides UW has gone to an NCAA Regional since 1991. In the 1990s, Washington posted a 355-218 (.620) overall record and 167-85 (.663) in Pac-10 play. Under coach Ken Knutson (1993-), Washington posted a 163-67 (.709) record against all teams from the Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) and went 128-62 (.674) against Division I teams from the Northwest. Knutson has a winning record against every Northwest foe (12) he has ever faced.
MORE IN THE 90'S: Among the nine current Pac-10 teams, Washington posted the fourth-best record during the 1990s with a 355-218 (.620) overall record. Stanford (.673), USC (.657) and Arizona State (.651) were the three league schools with better marks. The Huskies' .635 conference winning percentage during the decade was third-best behind the Cardinal (.650) and Trojans (.639). With four NCAA regional appearances in the 90's, the Huskies were behind USC (6), Stanford (5) and UCLA (5).
YOUTH FACTOR: In 1996, the Huskies started an average of more than six freshmen in each game. That Husky team, led by a recruiting class ranked No. 8 in the nation, went on to win three Pac-10 Northern Division titles and two Pac-10 championships. Not since then has the Husky roster been so young. The 36-player roster includes 19 newcomers and only one senior, Ed Erickson. The roster includes only six players 21 years old or older and 28 freshmen and sophomores. The Huskies should have new starters at catcher, shortstop, third base, right field and left field every day and may have newcomers at second base and DH on a given day. None of the five catchers on the roster (four freshmen, one RS-sophomore transfer) has ever played in a college baseball game. Last weekend at the Rawlings Spring Training Tournament, 16 different players (nine hitters, six pitchers, one pitcher/hitter) made their UW debut, a group that included 12 freshmen.
PRESEASON PREDICTIONS: The various preseason magazines and polls haven't had much to say about the Huskies -- not surprising when one considers the lack of returning starters and high number of new players. Both preseason magazines (Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball), as well as the Pac-10 coaches' poll picked the Huskies to finish seventh in the nine-team Pac-10. Baseball America, which ranks a top 100 in the preseason, tabbed the Huskies No. 52, but did not predict that they'd make the postseason. While no Husky players were named preseason All-Pac-10, several were noted in Baseball America's various draft preview lists. Junior RHP Jeff Carlsen was picked as the No. 52 college prospect while junior RHP Matt Massingale was No. 70 on that list. Also, freshman 1B/OF Jay Garthwaite was selected as the No. 17 prospect among college freshmen.
PAC-10 IS NO. 1 AGAIN: Baseball America once again ranked the Pacific-10 as the toughtest conference in the nation in this spring's preseason issue. Five of the league's nine schools (Oregon has no baseball team) rank in the top 25 and all nine made the top 86. Five of the 14 spots on BA's preseason All-America team were held by Pac-10 players and eight of the 14 second-teamers were conference members. Five of the top 11 college prospects in the nation (in terms of the 2000 draft) are Pac-10 players, including the first, second and sixth picks, according to Baseball America.
FRIENDLY CONFINES: Washington was very tough at home in the 1990s, posting a mark of 160-52 (.755) over the last 10 seasons. Under coach Ken Knutson, the Huskies have posted a remarkable 121-39 record in home games, good for a .756 mark. In 1998, the Huskies moved into Husky Ballpark and have notched a 42-18 (.700) record so far. In two seasons, the Huskies have averaged 30 home games a year after usually having played 15 to 20 each season at old Graves Field. This season, the Dawgs are scheduled to play 30 home games.
THE POWER HOUSE: History will eventually be the judge of whether the new Husky Ballpark favors the hitters or the pitchers. So far, however, it definitely has been advantageous to the offense. Through 60 games at Husky Ballpark, the Huskies have belted 109 home runs, an average of 1.8 per game, while visitors have hit 73 home runs, or 1.2 per game. In 60 games, a total of 860 runs have been scored (both teams combined), an average of 14.3 per game.
MORE COACH K FACTS: In only seven years as the head coach of the Washington baseball team, Ken Knutson has posted a list of accomplishments that already far outdistances any of his predecessors'. Aside from his outstanding won-lost record (see first page), Knutson has led the Dawgs to four Pac-10 North titles and two overall Pac-10 crowns. His teams have never finished below .500 in conference play and he earned the Pac-10 North Coach of the Year award three times. In seven seasons, he has coached 35 first-team all-league players, 11 different All-Americans and seven different USA National Teamers. Prior to his arrival, no Husky had ever tried out for the national team. Knutson has also seen 33 players move on to the professional ranks. Of those 33, all but one improved his draft standing compared to where he went prior to coming to the UW.
ONE-MAN SHOW: Sophomore first baseman Todd Linden was downright dominant in last weekend's Rawlings Spring Training Tournment. The switch hitter from Bremerton, Wash., finished the five-game weekend with a .750 batting average (12-for-16) and reached base safely in 16 of his 20 plate appearances (four walks). Linden also showed tremendous power and run production, tallying two doubles, a triple, three home runs and 11 RBI. He slugged 1.563 and struck out only once, and he even managed to throw out two baserunners from left field. Linden accounted for 11 of the Huskies' 25 RBI (44 percent) and 12 of their 38 hits (32 percent). For his efforts, Linden was named the first Pac-10 Player of the Week for the 2000 season. After such a hot start, Linden has already built a tremendous cushion into his batting average. He could go hitless in his next 24 at bats and still be batting .300.
ERICKSON: Senior first baseman Ed Erickson would like to finally put in a full season this year. After seeing action as a part-time starter his first two seasons, Erickson was a full-timer last year, starting at first base and hitting cleanup. However, his 1999 season was shortened when he suffered broken bones in his right wrist and hand in a collision at first base against UCLA on March 27. Erickson played 17 games after the injury, but wasn't the same. In the 21 games prior, he batted .325 with eight homers and 24 RBI. After the injury, he hit only one more home run and had nine RBI while his average dropped to .270. After extensive and delicate off-season surgery and an amazing 21 weeks in a cast, Erickson is once again healthy. The Huskies' only senior already holds the UW career home runs record with 31, having hit his 31st late last year against Arizona State. With a good season, the Yakima, Wash., native should rank among the top-10 in UW history in runs, hits, runs batted in and doubles.
CARLSEN: At 6-foot-7, junior right-handed pitcher Jeff Carlsen is the tallest member of the Washington roster. He's also the most successful and experienced member of the Husky pitching staff. Carlsen, who has been a regular member of the Husky starting rotation since his arrival from North Kitsap High in Poulsbo, Wash., has compiled an impressive 16-4 career won-lost record, including a 9-1 overall mark and 4-1 Pac-10 record last season. Carlsen was a freshman All-America in 1998 and the only freshman on the All-Pac-10 North first team. Last season, he was a second-team Academic All-Pac-10 pick and was invited to try out for the U.S. National Team before going to the Cape Cod League, where he was an all-star for the second straight season. In two season with the Bourne Braves in the Cape, Carlsen has posted a 9-3 record. Carlsen ranks ninth in UW history with his 16 career wins, 11 victories short of Mike Smith's Husky record (27).
RITTENHOUSE: Like many members of the Husky roster, junior Marc Rittenhouse had his 1999 season cut short by injury. The Huskies' new starting center fielder was having a great season before fouling a ball of his foot and breaking a bone during a game in Arizona. In his second season as the Huskies' starting second baseman last year, Rittenhouse was hitting .375 before getting hurt. He played in 10 more games, still managing to hit .360 overall, but ended up missing 21 games due to the broken bone. Rittenhouse, from Belleuve's Newport High, started the year with a 15-game hitting streak during which he hit .400 and scored 23 runs. After having that streak broken with one hitless game, he went on to hit in 11 games in a row. In games in which Rittenhouse played last year, the Huskies were 24-11. Without him, they went only 9-12. This year, the leadoff man is moving to center field after spending the last two seasons in the infield. Last weekend, he went 5-for-14 (.357) with a team-highs in runs (eight), doubles (three), walks (five) and steals (one).
NOTABLES: Over the summer, junior LHP Mike Bomar posted a 2.89 ERA for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in the tough Alaska League ... sophomore LHP Zack Daniels closed out last season with seven consecutive shutout appearances (9.2 innings total) ... junior LHP Matt Gardner, who had off-season shoulder surgery, had a 2.53 earned run average over his first nine appearances last year before getting hurt ... sophomore LHP Taylor Grant starred for Grand Forks (N.D.) in the Northwoods League over the summer, compiling a 2.43 ERA and making all-league ... Grant had a 2.61 earned run average over his final 11 appearances last season at UW ... in his 3.1-inning relief outing Sunday vs. Northern Iowa, he allowed no runs, hits or walks while fanning five ... starting OF Matt Hollod, despite making only 23 starts last season, is the Dawgs' second-leading (tied) returning RBI man with 24 last season ... junior RHP Matt Massingale, who moved from the closer role into the starting rotation this season, was the Pac-10 co-leader in saves last season with eight ... a Husky has led the league in saves eight of the last 10 seasons ... after becoming the Huskies' starting second baseman late last season, sophomore IF Brent Robertson made only three errors in 111 chances (.982) and didn't commit an error over his last 79 attempts ... RS-freshman RHP Bryan Barton has yet to allow a run or a walk in his first three career innings, pitched over two outings ... junior 1B Duggan Moran drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the Huskies win over Northern Iowa with a single, his first career base hit ... sophomore 3B Michael Done had a strong first weekend as a Husky, batting .333 (6-for-18) with six runs, a double, a homer and two triples.
RANDOM NOTES: Of the 36 players on the Washington roster, only five come from outside of the state of Washington -- 3B/P Michael Done (Colorado), 1B Duggan Moran (Colorado), RHP Tyler Shepple (Colorado), OF Steve DeClerck (Oregon) and RHP Randy Vanderplow (California) ... of the 31 Washingtonians on the roster, 25 are from western Washington (west of the Cascades) ... over the last three seasons, the Huskies have hit a total of 283 home runs ... 283 homers are more than the UW team had hit in the previous eight seasons combined (261 HR from 1989 to 1996) ... Ed Erickson's 31 career home runs are the most in UW history ... after him, the current Husky with the most career homers is Marc Rittenhouse, with six ... Marques Tuiasosopo, Washington's star quarterback who had decided to play baseball this spring, spent two weeks in spring practice before determining that the time commitments were too much ... current UW position players combined for only 154 starts last year (consider that in a 56-game season, there are 504 available starts) ... the last two times that the Huskies opened the season with an 0-3 record (as they did this year), they won the Pac-10 Northern Division championship (1993 and 1996).